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Web TV
(Last update in 2012)

Web TV – (May also be known as: Web-over Television Services, Web Enhanced TV, TeleWebbing, Teleweb, TV-based Web Browsing, TV Internet Delivery System, Set-top Box, TV Internet Access Device, Phone-Based Web Boxes, WebTV Device, Hybrid WebTV Device, Web Over TV, Web-based Internet TV, Web Channels, Web TV, Web-connected Smart TV, Web-based Television, Hybrid Web-to-TV, hybrid-capable STB.

Associated with TV Internet Access Device, Terrestrial-based Internet-over-TV service, IP Niche Programming, Narrowcasting, Slivercasting, VOD, IP VOD Channel, IPTV, Internet Channels, Online TV, Net TV, Television-over-broadband, Broadband Entertainment, Internet enabled TV, Internet on TV, Internet-over-TV, High Speed Internet on TV, Internet-connected TVs, TV Internet System, InternetTV, Online Video, TV-over-ADSL, TV-based Internet, Broadband-based TV, ITV-over-DSL, Broadband ITV, ADSL-based VOD, Interactive Broadband Television, Interactive Online TV, Terrestrial-based Internet-over-TV.)

(1) Utilizing a television system to access Web programming content that is delivered via the Internet. (Web-based Television technically would be the accessing of programming content over the Internet while utilizing a television system but that gets used interchangeably with the term "Web TV".) See Internet-connected TVs.

A Web TV system typically incorporates Internet access, a Web browser, wired or wireless networking, a keyboard/keypad or mini-keyboard and a wireless control device such as a wireless mouse. While Web TV browsers might not offer as much functionality as a PC-based browser, it can be a low-cost alternative to a traditional Internet-connected computerized device. (This is changing with Internet-connected TV hooked to HDTVs.) Unlike the digital input that computer monitors receive, most non-HDTV TVs receive their input in the form of analog waves,
(SDTV versus digital TV.) Those Web TVs display fewer pixels per square inch than a computer monitor or compatible HDTV.

(2) Web TV
also might be used to describe any computerized system that enables viewing of TV programming that is delivered via the Web. These different devices include PCs, mobile devices and Internet-connected TVs. (Internet TV technically is more the act of watching video programming via the Internet, but the term is sometimes used interchangeably with Web TV anyway.)

Stanford Description

Web-based Television

In the late 1990s, network computers were expected to be a big deal, until the price of PCs went down so much and so fast. There were network computer systems that also used set top boxes for Internet access. An example was Acorn's Concord network computer (NC). RCA manufactured the Concord set-top box. This set top box even supported Java for displaying digital images on televisions. (Reference.)

Web TVs in the States include (or have included) AOLTV® in it's (previous set-top form and Microsoft's MSN®TV.


Web TV Development Timeline

(Remember, being able to access the Internet is required to being on this list, not just being an Interactive TV service that also used a set-top box):

1995-96 - Steve Perlman, Bruce Leak and Phil Goldman founded what would be later be WebTV Networks. (Reference)

1996 - WebTV was invented in 1996 by Diba Inc (
Steve Perlman) and Zenith Electronics. (Reference)

1997 - NetChannel is the first Web-enhanced television service available to consumers in Europe. It would later be bought by AOLTV.

1998 - Microsoft's Windows 98 includes the application "WebTV for Windows". It's a type of Interactive Program Guide and in many respects is quite different from MSNTV. WebTV for Windows uses ActiveX to display conventional television shows and an HTML browser to present interactive content for interactive shows. (Reference)

1999 - In January 1999, WebTV Networks, Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp. announced the WebTV Personal TV service for Satellite. (Reference.)

2000 - Microsoft WebTV Networks (later called "MSNTV") and the former UltimateTV® service offered an integrated subscription. This very impressive service offered Interactive Television, Internet access, digital video recording and more. 

2000 - AOL launches its AOLTV Web TV services. It was discontinued (to new subscribers) in 2002. 

Early WebTV browser - The earlier WebTV Networks browsers has a screen size of 420x560 pixels, so the general rule of thumb was to not make your Web TV Web page wider than 560 pixels. (If it is wider, in many cases the Web TV system will re-arrange the webpage to make it viewable in that smaller pixel range.) There was no mouse option so the WebTV browser translated HTML frames as tables in order to avoid the need for a mouse. (One can now use a mouse with MSNTV2.) Standard PC font sizes, (for instance Times font size 11,) are too small to be seen well over the typical Web TV.  Most Web TV Web browsers automatically make the text larger and if necessary automatically switch the font to a font that looks better when larger, such as Arial or Helvetica.  Another problem is that typically Web TV's video signal doesn't refresh as quickly, or as often as computer monitors. Thus dark backgrounds with light lettering read better than light backgrounds with dark lettering.  More advanced Web TVs might come with CPUs, RAM (though less than a PC would have,) a modem, parallel and/or serial ports, an operating system, Flash ROM (where the operating system might be stored), an optional hard drive, a built in browser and/or software package. The software can be discreetly upgraded by the Web TV service provider via the Internet.

Internet TV

Internet-connected TVs

Microsoft WebTV Classic &  WebTV Plus {Interactive} - These later became MSNTV -

MSNTV® & MSNTV Plus®, MSNTV 2® - The only current manufacturers of Microsoft's MSN's set-top boxes are Thomson and RCA. Previously the two largest manufacturers of WebTV boxes were Philips and Sony. The re-branding and upgrading of Microsoft's WebTV to MSNTV would give its service broadband and home networking capabilities and the ability to stream video and music from the Internet or from files stored on a PC. To stream files from your PC to the MSNTV set-top box you'll need an enabled XP or Vista operating system, a network interface card and meet other standard requirements. Installing Windows Media Connect on your PC enables you to deliver music, photos, and videos that reside on your enabled PC to devices that support the uPnP protocol. This includes digital audio receivers, connected DVD players, MSN TV2 and more. MSNTV has virus protection and bulk email guard.

These are phone numbers (good at the time of this article's writing) for MSNTV technical help. (How much help you get depends on how well trained the person answering is): 866-466-7688 & 800-469-3288.

MSN Companion - The MSN Companion was a small-scale personal computer terminal designed for easy access to MSN services over the Internet. Though it was designed by Microsoft, it was to compete with their WebTV service. The MSN Companion was intended for use by people with little knowledge of computers or technology, and many included several features aimed at the elderly or disabled, such as easier-to-read monitors.



TV Board

TV Crossover Links

TV Tuner Card


TV-HTML Extension

TV Internet Access Device

TV Internet System

WebTV for Windows

Windows Media Center

Windows Media Connect (WMC)